ROYAL OAK, Mich., February 2, 2012 – February is off to a rockin’ start with the addition of seven rockhopper penguins to the Detroit Zoo’s Penguinarium.  The four males and three females, ranging in age from 1 to 26, arrived in December from Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo after its seabird exhibit closed.

After a 30-day quarantine period, the newcomers from the Windy City mingled with the Zoo’s 18 rockhopper penguins in an off-exhibit area for several days before joining the entire colony of rockhopper, macaroni and king penguins in the Penguinarium’s large main habitat.  

“The Detroit Zoo is a great place for these birds because we have a lot of experience working with rockhoppers, and our penguin habitat provides temperature and light conditions similar to their former home.  This is especially important for the older penguins as it can sometimes be difficult for them to adjust to environmental changes,” said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Birds Tom Schneider.  

Found in the steep terrain of the sub-Antarctic islands, the rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) gets its name from the way it hops from rock to rock.  The rockhopper is among the world's smallest penguin species, standing up to 20 inches tall and weighing about 7 pounds.  The black-and-white bird is distinguished by the crest of spiky yellow and black feathers that adorn its head.  It has red eyes, a red-orange beak and pink webbed feet.

Opened in 1968, the Detroit Zoo’s Penguinarium was the first facility in North America designed specifically for penguins.  A circular pool allows the birds to swim continuously, giving them the ability to move fast enough to porpoise or “fly” through the water.